The Calvià region in the south-west of Majorca combines everything a holiday in Majorca has to offer- from the beach-life and nightclubs of major resorts such as Magaluf and Santa Ponsa, to remote sandy bays like Portals Vells with its mysterious carved limestone caves, to the mountain towns of the Serra de Tamunan. The main resort area is spread out over a number of towns about 25 kilometres southeast of Majorca’s main airport at Palma – so visitors are able to minimise their travel time, and maximise their time in the sun.
Magaluf is one of Majorca’s major tourist hotspots, and the largest outside Palma itself. It caters mainly to tourists from Britain and Scandinavia in the popular 18-30 holiday niche, who come to enjoy the resort’s three white-sand beaches during the day – and after sundown, its frantic bar and nightclub scene, which regularly features many of the world’s top dance DJs. The revelries can be expected to continue until the sun comes up again.
Magaluf is well supplied with every conceivable tourist attraction, including two water-parks and the largest casino on Majorca, as well as bungee jumping, go-karting, horseback riding, jet-skiing, windsurfing and scuba diving. A car- free promenade lined with shops and restaurants runs behind the beach all the way to the neighbouring resort of Palma Nova – a generally quieter town than Magaluf, and more popular with families than the 18-30s crowd. Wherever you go, there are plenty of restaurants offering familiar British food, as well as Indian, Chinese, Italian and Mexican cuisines – and even Spanish.
The smaller resort of Santa Ponsa, 5 kilometres from Magaluf, has an historic claim as the place where King James the First of Aragon landed in 1229 to retake the island from the Moors after more than 300 years of Muslim rule. A cross at the entrance to the marina marks the spot where he is said to have stepped ashore. Every September the city hosts a two-week fiesta to commemorate the landing, which includes a mock battle between teams of “Moors” and “Christians.” Santa Ponsa is popular with families, and with golfers – it has a large water park, and there are several golf courses nearby.
At the tip of the Calvià peninsula is the coastal small town of Portals Vells. The small harbour here has long been a refuge for smugglers and pirates. Stone for the famous cathedral in Palma was quarried from a large cave here – and over the centuries the cave has become covered with detailed carvings of religious symbols. Portals Vells is a popular mooring site for yachts, but more difficult to reach overland – taking a taxi or hiring a car may be the best options. The beach and rocky bay are also good spots for snorkelling.
In the far west of the Calvià region, Majorca’s sun-set coast near Andratx in the Serra de Tamunan mountains has become popular with holiday-makers and independent travellers who want to get away from the main tourist resorts. Many Hollywood stars and other international celebrities have built holiday homes here. The town of Andratx itself was built a few miles inland – to protect it from pirate attacks – but there are many remote bays and beaches nearby, including an excellent beach and small resort at Camp de Mar.